When you are in need of childcare for your little one, there are a number of options for you to choose from. Previously we covered Au Pairs, what they are, what they do, what is involved with having one care for your child, and how they differ from nannies. If you are not looking for something quite as personalized as an individual nanny or au pair to live-in with your family, you still have a few options for group care. Your child can either go to a daycare center, or to a home daycare. To get you started with your decision-making, there are a few main differences between the two to consider.
In a home daycare, there are generally fewer children than at a daycare center (but of course also less staff). A daycare center will also generally have more stringent regulations of just about everything from certifications and training to class size and facility maintenance and safety. A home daycare may have less regulation and certification, or maybe none at all.
The children in a home daycare will likely be grouped together with a range of age groups all mixed in together, whereas at a daycare center kids are usually grouped together by the same age group. The mixed ages can be good if you want your child to learn to interact with other kids of a variety of ages, but if you want him or her to meet kids of his or her same age – maybe in preparation for going to the local school in a few years – a daycare center might be a better bet.
Another thing to consider when weighing your options between a daycare center and a home daycare facility is what the childcare giver will be doing throughout the day. It is possible that the person running the home daycare could spend a lot of the day doing their own household chores – doing the dishes or cleaning the kitchen, etc. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just depends on what you’re looking for for your child. It could suit you just fine for the carer to do whatever they need to get done in their home, as long as the kids are being watched by a grownup who is at least close at hand. You could look at it as though your child has simply gone over to a friend’s house to play, and the parents are doing their own thing (but still being present as parents).
A daycare center, on the other hand, may be more structured, with a developed age-appropriate curriculum, lesson plans, set nap times, snack times, etc., and possibly educational and recreational tools and toys that aren’t going to be available in someone’s personal home for a home daycare.
As with choosing between an au pair or nanny, when choosing between a daycare center or home daycare, neither is necessarily better than the other, it just depends on the personality of your child, and what experience you are trying to provide and facilitate for them for those hours in the day that you are away from them.